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Governance Gauge: E-mail Compliance Demands Technology

Concern about the compliance and security risks represented by outbound e-mail is red hot among businesses, although you wouldn't know it from their lukewarm adoption of technology built to mitigate those risks.

35% Companies that suspected e-mail leaks of confidential information in the last year
25%Outbound e-mail with content posing legal, financial or regulatory risks
Concern about the compliance and security risks represented by outbound e-mail is red hot among businesses, although you wouldn't know it from their lukewarm adoption of technology built to mitigate those risks. Nearly 80% of the hundreds of large companies Forrester Consulting interviewed for Proofpoint, a messaging security vendor, reported being "concerned" or "very concerned" about outbound e-mail compliance.

A whopping 63% of large companies employ or plan to hire people to read or audit sent e-mail — that figure is 70% among the largest companies. But such low-tech approaches can't stanch the flow of sensitive information; the only remedies available after information leaks are to discipline or fire employees and to publicly disclose the leak or pay fines when required by law.

Text analysis and rules management technologies boost "extrusion prevention" software's power to stop leaks. Such software can monitor e-mail, instant messages, FTP sessions and other avenues of information leaks to quarantine suspicious communications, or strip or encrypt sensitive attachments or text according to corporate policies. But capabilities vary widely, so carefully define your requirements before starting your vendor search.

Get Smart

Don't read just the first chapter of Malcolm Gladwell's newest bestseller, Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking (Little, Brown, 2005). If you do, you'll mistakenly think he argues against the kind of methodical, data-driven decisions we espouse. Blink isn't an ovation to management by whim. Instead, through the use of fascinating examples told in captivating narrative, Gladwell shows that the split-second, "instinctive" decisions that turn out best are the ones informed by deep experience. Experience susses out the few critical variables relevant to a decision. Blink indirectly and convincingly defends data mining, decision trees and closed-loop decision-making.

— Jeanette Burriesci